Among the francophone African states that have recently undertaken democratic reforms, Congo appears to be one of the few that have gone some distance in consolidating their new democratic institutions. In doing so, Congo has had to overcome an entrenched authoritarian regime and grapple with economic paralysis and ethnic confrontations; meanwhile, the French response to democratization in Congo has been ambivalent. During 1993 and 1994, under the pressures of pronounced economic contraction, Congo appeared headed for an ethnically oriented civil war. Since then public order has been slowly returning, and Congo now seems to be tentatively headed down the path of real, if imperfect, democracy. Perhaps Congo’s favorable social features make it a good candidate for membership in the small club of stable, durable African democracies. Events thus far seem to indicate that the structural impediments to the continuing entrenchment of Congolese democracy are formidable but that they can possibly be overcome by sensitive national leadership.